At Cape Fear Valley Health in Fayetteville, NC, the culture of leadership is changing. Independent, competitive and isolated is out. Interdependent, collaborative and connected is in.

In just two years, the top 125 managers have “become the most cohesive leadership team I’ve seen,” says William Pryor, senior vice president of Human Resources. “Instead of a group of technically talented healthcare professionals working in silos, we now have a leadership team that is working effectively across disciplines to address system-wide growth and change.”

The shift began when Michael Nagowski, then the new CEO, hired William to spearhead leadership development for the rapidly growing healthcare system. Cape Fear Valley Health was in transition from a small county hospital to a regional player with 5,000 employees, five hospitals and nearly a million patient visits annually.

“Cape Fear Valley faces the same challenges that other hospitals and healthcare systems face: rapidly changing technologies, staffing shortages and turnover, and lots of uncertainty driven by costs and healthcare reform,” William explains. “To grow and provide quality care as a high-volume hospital, our leaders need to adapt and collaborate — and help other employees do the same.”

William, who had experienced a CCL leadership program earlier in his career, brought in the Center’s healthcare sector specialists to work closely with the Cape Fear Valley executive team to articulate the leadership needs and priorities of the organization.

They focused on two issues — how to boost individual leader effectiveness, as many of the top 125 were highly skilled nurses, technicians or other professional staff who had never been coached or supported as they took on larger leadership roles, and how to improve collaboration and foster shared interests, as the organization operated largely as independent departments.

To address these dual issues, CCL tailored a five-day skill-building and collaborative leadership development program for top managers. Held in a retreat setting at CCL’s Greensboro campus, the program included interactive sessions, personalized feedback and follow-up coaching for each participant. The executive team participated in a similar program, aimed at boosting their effectiveness and reinforcing a collaborative culture.

Results are in. A post-program evaluation showed individual improvement in key areas, including participative management, communicating effectively, perspective-taking and taking action. Cross-boundary and workgroup collaboration have improved and managers report a greater focus on the organizational mission.

“Our managers are more energetic, highly engaged and much better at finding creative solutions to patient satisfaction challenges and other operations issues,” William says. “The leadership team is committed to working together, crossing boundaries and being proactive as we face the opportunities and pressures that come at us every day.”

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